BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A bill that would help make sure college students don’t go hungry was signed into law.
“I’m excited that it passed and I’m even more excited that the governor signed it today,” said State Representative Barbara Freiberg.
This bill comes as a startling number of households in Louisiana are experiencing food insecurity. A study done by the Center for Planning Excellence says, “Nationally, 16% of households are food insecure, and… in Louisiana, those numbers are significantly higher — 21% of households are food insecure.”
Freiberg’s bill called ‘Hunger-Free Campus’ addresses the food needs of the college population.
“This bill would encourage colleges and universities throughout this state to have an organized way of looking at food insecurities on their individual campuses,” she explained.
The state Board of Regents would help establish a grant program to send money to colleges and get nutrition counselors to help struggling students.
“Over 30%, and I was shocked by that number, of students in college campuses in this state have food, insecurities,” said Freiberg.
“Food Insecurity is a word that essentially encapsulates the idea that there’s not enough food to eat and there’s not enough good and healthy food to eat,” added Pennington Biomedical Research Center Director of the Social Determinants and Health Disparities Lab Candice Myers.
Food insecurity has affected more than 20% of households in Louisiana.
“Things like worrying food would run out, food bought, did not last, could not afford balanced meals, actually cutting the size of meals or skipping meals,” Myers explained.
These deficiencies have been linked to health issues like obesity.
“Food insecurity is more prevalent among adults who have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index), specifically a BMI that puts them in the obese category. Food insecurity has a negative impact very often on nutrition and diet,” Myers stated.
She said they have found factors like the pandemic and inflation to worsen these problems.
“Now we have inflation that is really further exacerbating the issues. It kind of started with COVID and are prolonging around food prices, employment, job, just all of those socioeconomic things,” she said.
Black households have been experiencing a lot of it. She said one reason is their socioeconomic (SES) status.
“African-American families, probably because of the intersectionality with being lower SES, are probably experiencing that more acutely than other families that are higher SES,” said Myers.
Pennington Biomedical planned to take a closer look into the sex and race disparity in the state. They are looking for participants ages 18 to 65. Click here to learn how you can sign up.